civil war, old photos, rebel yell
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Rare Footage: Civil War Soldiers' Rebel Yell

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March 30, 2017
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The "Rebel Yell" was a war cry of the Confederate forces during the Civil War, possibly adopted from similar war cries of Native Americans - many of whom actually sided with the confederacy. The cry has been described as something like the scream of a rabbit, a wolf howl, or a banshee cry, and stood in stark contrast to the more disciplined cry of the Yankee forces. It was designed to command and control the fear of the opponent on the battlefield. Many veterans have tried to describe the cry in their memoirs, but most fall short of truly capturing the hair-raising terror that it inspired. In later years, it would evolve into the iconic "yee-haw" we hear in most westerns.Not many film records of Civil War veterans have survived to the present; most of what we see of the war lies in sepia-toned portraits of battlefields and serious soldiers. But this footage shows both picture and audio as a group of Civil War veterans demonstrating the Rebel Yell for a group of onlookers. They laugh, smile, and react in much the same way that we would today. In the course of history, it's easy to forget that these were actual people with voices outside of the letters the wrote to their families. But in this footage, they are living, breathing voices of history.


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